Tuesday, May 15, 2012

new beginnings: parmesan baked eggs

I have (finally!) finished my Master's degree, so now it's on to new frontiers.  Specifically, I will be a library media specialist in an elementary school this fall, and we're moving next month.  I'm also ready to reinvigorate this blog, if only to fill the gap in my time left by the absence of school work (good riddance!).

It's fitting that I'm thinking of new things at this time in the year, when farmer's markets are reopening and little green shoots are arriving in CSA boxes.  The best thing to do with those tender greens is to treat them very gently, if at all.  Better yet, pair them with a perfectly cooked egg.  I love this recipe for parmesan baked eggs from Pinch of Yum because it's simple and quick, yet it feels decadent to dip toasts into rich orange egg yolks.  All it needs are some lightly dressed spring greens for a well-rounded dinner.

Parmesan Baked Eggs

Pay close attention to the tops of the eggs and try to stick to the time recommendation.  They may not seem done, but don't overcook as you don't want the yolks to get hard.  The eggs will continue cooking a bit as they sit.

1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
6 eggs
1 tbsp heavy cream (or half and half)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, heat butter and oil.  Add shallot and saute until soft and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Add herbs and salt; remove from heat and stir to combine.  The mixture should be somewhat coarse and just a little buttery.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Place a small pat of butter (about 1 tsp) in the bottom of each of 3 ramekins.  Place in oven until butter is melted.

Remove ramekins from oven, add 1 tsp of cream to each, and crack 2 eggs into each ramekin without breaking the yolk.  Sprinkle the her mixture over the top of each ramekin and return to the oven.  Bake for about 7 minutes.

Turn up the heat to the broil setting and let the eggs broil for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from oven when egg whites are just set and yolks are still soft.  Let stand for 3-5 minutes before serving.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cheese.  Serve with broiled hearty bread rubbed with a garlic clove on both sides.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

eating in manhattan

waiting feet at Russ & Daughters

I need to finally get around to finishing my NYC posts, since I've already been on another food-heavy trip in the meantime.  There are just so many photos of delicious foods backlogged in iPhoto that I get overwhelmed and keep putting it on the back burner!  It's gotten so that I have neglected photographing meals that I cook, since I haven't been posting them anyway.  I want that to change!  And maybe it will soon enough, since I am now in my final semester of grad school.  We shall see.

On our trip in August, we didn't even make it onto the island of Manhattan until the last two days, and then we had a lot of catching up to do, food-wise.

Lower East Side

We are always on the lookout for a good donut, so I knew we couldn't miss the Doughnut Plant.  To start off our day of devouring fried doughs from all over the world, we bought a half dozen donuts.  Besides the one you see below, we also enjoyed flavors such as oatmeal, fresh peach, salted peanut, blackout, and a creme brulee raised donut.  Man, my mouth is watering just typing this.

tres leches donut

Cocoron Soba came highly recommended from Serious Eats and provided one of the lighter options of our day--yes, noodles dipped in scalding pork and kimchi was light, relatively speaking.  And it was incredibly satisfying to boot.
pork kimchee dip soba

Apparently the LES location of BaoHaus has closed since we went there, but it would be worth seeking out their new location for the tender, flavorful pork belly they serve.  

the Chairman Bao: braised Berkshire pork belly, crushed peanuts, cilantro, Haus relish, and Taiwanese red sugar

After recommendations from our buddies Joey and Tony, we had to hit up Russ & Daughters for bagels and lox to eat on some park steps.  To be honest, it was my first experience with lox (I realized lox was really not the same thing as smoked salmon) and I'm not sure I want to have it anywhere else after this.  It was that good.

 everything bagel with lox, scallion cream cheese, red onion, and tomato

On the same park steps, we enjoyed our first knish.  Every little place on Coney Island sells knishes, but our traveling host let us know that those are typically just frozen, heavy prepackaged things that they reheat.  Although this knish from Yonah Schimmel Knishery was not exactly light (you should feel the heft of these things), the pastry was flaky and buttery and the potato filling well-seasoned.  Since we were amateurs at knish-eating, we got ours topped with cheese.  You can take the kids out of Wisconsin...anyway.

mozzarella knish 

Vanessa's Dumplings was just on the edge of Chinatown and on many lists of the best dumplings in the area.  I didn't have any other dumpling with which to compare, but I certainly wasn't complaining about these.  Be sure to find the Chinatown location, though, where dumplings come 5 for $1.  The newish midtown location gets away with charging $3 for the same number.  Please excuse the terrible photography as we were shooting in the low light of an apartment stoop.

pork dumplings

 steamed pork buns

sesame duck pancake - we were so stuffed by this point, but couldn't pass up the chance to try this


I don't know my New York geography all that well, so if I put a restaurant in the wrong neighborhood, please go easy on me.

One of my major goals in visiting NYC was to eat in Flushing.  The other was to eat at a Momofuku location.  Weird how I wanted to eat at the most authentic Asian restaurants and also one of the most popularized Asian chains.

Because we couldn't afford--or even get a spot in--the high-end Momofuku restaurant, we opted for the  Ssam Bar, with their delicious-sounding duck lunches.  Indeed, delicious they were.

rotisserie duck over rice with greens and many tasty sauces

 steamed bun with pulled duck, sauerkraut, and smoked mayo

Waddling across the street, we completed the Momofuku experience by visiting Milk Bar.  We had read some complaints that the quality was compromised when Milk Bar had recently centralized their baking operations and sent prepackaged sweets out to their several locations.  I couldn't say for sure, but I do wonder whether the cookies wouldn't have been better fresh.  However, we had no complaints about the pies...

 candy bar pie

aptly-named crack pie

compost cookie - not pictured: cornflake marshmallow and blueberry cream

We waited in line for an hour to get ice cream at the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (since expanded into the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop), but it was worth it.  The line moves slowly because the proprietor does everything himself: he takes your order, pulls the soft serve, carefully injects it with dulce de leche, grinds sea salt over it, dips it in chocolate shell, and handles the money.  So good.

 the Salty Pimp

West Village

Our only foray into the West Village was motivated by--surprise--food.  We had read--and had it confirmed by a New Yorker--that Taim had the best falafel in the city.  I had not had a ton of falafel, and the falafel Matt had tasted he had not enjoyed.  We both loved this.  The green variety really is green, packed with herbs and flavor.  Coupled with a refreshing mint ginger limeade, the sandwich made me forget my tired feet for 20 minutes.

 green falafel sandwich with hummus, israeli salad, pickled cabbage, and tahini sauce

That's it (finally) for my New York photos!  Hope they were informative and inspiring.  Check back for pics from our recent Portland trip and (hopefully) more home-cooked meal posts!


Last night Matt and I had a great time at the Bookless Party inside the gutted Madison Central Library.  I wish it would stick around longer than one night.  Here's a gif I threw together of some cute pictures from the "photo booth" station.

librarians know how to party

Friday, December 9, 2011

eating in queens

Here comes the next stop on our NYC food tour...only three months after the first installment!  Better late than never?  

Oddly enough--and it seemed to strike New York residents as especially odd--we stayed exclusively in Brooklyn and Queens the first 2/3 of our week-long summer trip.  We didn't even make it across the water to Manhattan until the last two (food-filled) days.  Those photos will be coming along, hopefully soon.  It's not necessarily that we didn't want to go to Manhattan, but there was already so much to see and to eat in Long Island's boroughs.  So, without further ado, Queens!

Long Island City

We spent one hot day in LIC and managed to swing by M.Well's diner for brunch between "Warm Up" festivities at MoMA PS1 and just before the diner was scheduled to move from its location at that time.  (Not sure what the status is currently.)  M.Wells had just been named in the Bon Appetit list of Best New Restaurants in 2011.  So, it was justifiably very busy, but worth the wait.  All our food was amazing.  Would definitely seek it out again when we return to the city.

adorable diner car interior 

egg-sausage sandwich with cheddar, pickled jalapenos, and tomato

fish & chips 

simple, but rich hamburger 

custardy maple pie 


After seeing Serious Eats writers repeatedly gush about the food courts in Flushing, I knew we had to go.  We took the long train ride out on a miserably rainy day and felt almost like we had left the states completely, the smells and sights were so fully Asian.

Here's a photo of the lovely food court at Flushing's New World Mall.

Here's a small corner of the food court where we actually ate something: Golden Shopping Mall's food court.

At the experts' insistence, we sought out Xi'an Famous Foods' cold skin noodles, a Chinese dish--and a combination of textures--like none I'd ever experienced before.  Hand-cut noodles with plenty of bite, cucumber, onions, and cilantro sit in a tear-jerkingly spicy sauce that's soaked up by spongey cubes of wheat gluten.  I want to go back to try stir-fried skin noodles, plus everything else on the menu.

Later on that evening, in sheer, wet exhaustion, we stumbled into a shabu shabu place called La Mei.  The kind couple sitting near us recommended the all-you-can-eat-in-two-hours option.  Even though we weren't all that hungry, we couldn't pass up the chance to dip a ton of different things in scalding pots of broth.  Seasoned buffet-goer Matt broke down during the last leg of our eating marathon, but I got a second wind when the fresh udon noodles showed up.  Oh man, I want some right now.

just some of the many things we tasted: fish balls, beef, napa cabbage, corn on the cob, pork blood rice cake, lamb, whitefish, cuttlefish, shrimp, spinach 

tasty little straw mushrooms

Check back for food tours of the Lower East Side and midtown Manhattan!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

eating in brooklyn

So, a couple weeks back we were in NYC, doing a veritable walking food tour of the city, armed with suggestions from the trusty Serious Eats and Everybody Likes Sandwiches blogs.  I am not going to review the places we went, since I'm pretty sure Serious Eats has covered every place we went at some point.  I am simply going to tempt you with food photos and hopefully provide at least one idea for a place to stop next time you're in the Big Apple.  

Let's start in Brooklyn!  Bear in mind, I know there are more neighborhoods in each of the NYC boroughs--I'm just listing the places we managed to make it to!

Crown Heights

We stayed with our friend in this neighborhood and had a lovely breakfast at Carribbean restaurant Trini-gul.

a "double" from Trini-gul

I could eat doubles every single morning for breakfast.  The heavily seasoned chickpea stew glues two soft flatbreads together and fills my stomach with a satisfying ball of starch to start off the day right.  Pictured with authentic Brooklyn chain link fence.

Our last meal in New York was a memorable one.  A couple of days before we had passed on eating pastrami at Katz's Deli (the Lower East Side food tour coming soon!) in favor of wrapping up our trip with the pastrami at David's Brisket House & Deli.  I guess I will never (?) know what I missed by skipping Katz's, but I do know I was not disappointed at David's.  

a classic pastrami on rye with mustard from David's Brisket House

My eyes probably grew wide when the fellow assembling sandwiches pulled a huge hunk of fragrant meat from a steam tray and put it on the meat cutter, juice dripping off the edge of the table and onto a strategically-placed towel.  So tender, so fatty, so hard to forget.


Sunday morning we made it out to the Brooklyn Flea at the East River Waterfront in Williamsburg.  There's also one in Fort Greene on Saturdays.  It was every bit the foodie haven that it had been advertised to be.  

pupusas from the Red Hook Vendors: pork "special" at left and chicken/cheese at right 

Matt, posing dutifully with watermelon juice from the Red Hook Vendors 

a fatty, crunchy (!) roast pork Porchetta sandwich 

for dessert: the "goodwich" from The Good Batch

I wanted so badly to have stroopwafels from The Good Batch, especially the peanut-butter-filled kind.  Somehow, even after we purchased an ice cream sandwich from that very stand, we failed to realize that it was indeed the stroopwafel place.  Oh, well.  They were probably out of them anyway and that would have just made me more crazy.

Not pictured (our camera battery died at dinner) is pizza at Forcella in Williamsburg.  Now, none of us ordered the montanara pictured in the Serious Eats review, but we did have a couple of the fried pizzas, and they were folded up and fried like calzones plus sauce, rather than flat as depicted.  We were confused, but no less satisfied.  

Coming soon: a pictorial food romp through Queens!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

all good summer things

I have been criminally lax about updating this blog, especially for the summertime!  In my defense, I've had a full course load this summer, but I have a few weeks between summer classes and fall classes to try and be productive.  I am going to really make an effort to update things this fall, if for no other reason than to feel like I'm doing something.

Anyway, I thought it was about time I posted a recipe.  We made this a few weeks back with one of the first summer tomatoes (from the farmer's market--we killed our tomato plant).  We also happened to have an abundance of blue cheese leftover from another meal.  We always have basil (out back), crusty bread, and our old standby, Sashay Acres bacon, on hand.  A meal was born.

Actually, we ate this as an appetizer, but it would be more than enough as an entree.  I only stacked our salads a few tomato slices high, but next time I'd go even lower--one or two slices only--for easier eating.  Next time I also think I'll splurge on the fancy French gray shallots at the farmer's market for more intense shallot flavor in the dressing.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Basil
very slightly adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious
serves 2 (easily multiplied)

2 slices crusty white bread, like sourdough
4 slices bacon (depending on how porky you like your veggies)
olive oil (if needed)
1/4 c finely chopped shallot
3 tbsp Sherry vinegar
2-3 assorted medium heirloom tomatoes, cut 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick
15 small fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 oz blue cheese, at room temperature, crumbled

Cook bacon in (cast iron, preferably) pan until crisp, and remove to paper towels.  Leave bacon drippings in pan.

In the same pan, toast bread on both sides in bacon drippings over medium heat.  If you don't like your bread bacon-y, pour off drippings into a heatproof bowl and reserve.  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the same pan and toast bread.

Using remaining bacon drippings (pour them back in the pan if you poured them off), plus a couple tablespoons olive oil if the pan is getting dry, cook shallots over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add vinegar and simmer, whisking, until emulsified, about 1 minute.  Season dressing with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Crumble bacon.  Arrange bread on plates and divide tomato slices among them, stacking slices and sprinkling some basil and bacon between slices. Sprinkle cheese and remaining basil and bacon over and around tomatoes. Spoon some of warm bacon dressing over and around tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

portland: dinner highlights

So, onto the other meal we ate in Portland.  There were no lunches, since the breakfasts were so huge.  Even though we ate at a lot more breakfast spots than dinner places, the dinners we had were some of my favorite meals on our trip.


Wonderful seasonal and local dishes.  I got to try my first fiddlehead fern and huckleberries.  Seemed like sort of a Portland version of our favorite restaurants in Madison.  Great for grown-ups and kids.

special: seared halibut with morels, fingerling potatoes, fiddlehead ferns, and tarragon vinaigrette

braised pork collar over greens and potatoes with apple butter

cuban sandwich with ham, roasted pork, house-made pickles, and mustard aioli

huckleberry cheesecake

Toro Bravo

A Spanish tapas joint--my first tapas meal.  We each ordered something we thought sounded good, then shared.  It was a very nice, though dark, birthday meal for Matt.

fideos with spring vegetables and bacon

drunken grilled pork over avocado salad

braised lamb with coriander and apricots over house-made noodles 
(my personal favorite of the night)

Would definitely return for more spicy, rich, sticky Thai food.  Whiskey Soda Lounge would make a fun stop--their related bar across the street serves really intriguing Thai appetizers.

clockwise from top right:
khao soi kai - curry noodle soup
duck larb issan
sticky rice & sides
sai ua samun phrai - Ching Mai spicy sausage
Vietnamese fish sauce wings

huckleberry drinking vinegars